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Learn about CUSMA benefits for SMEs

Selling your products or services in foreign markets can be rewarding, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Learn how to make the most of opportunities available through the Canada-U.S.-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA), also known as the new NAFTA, and get access to resources that will smooth your path to this lucrative market.

Business opportunities for SMEs in the U.S. and Mexico

The U.S. and Mexico constitute a market of over 450 million people, and total trilateral trade between NAFTA countries for 2019 is approximately CAD$1.5 trillion. Its physical proximity and cultural alignment make the North American territory a natural first international market for many Canadian companies. 

SMEs make up the vast majority of Canadian businesses and employed nearly 10.7 million Canadians, about 90% of the private sector labour force in 2017. In 2019, 81% of exporting firms in Canada exported goods to the U.S.

Of those exporting firms, 97% were SMEs. Together they accounted for CAD$159.2 billion in goods exports. In 2019, 4.3% of exporting firms in Canada exported goods to Mexico. SMEs accounted for just over 89% of all businesses exporting to Mexico from Canada, and accounted for a total value of CAD$2.4 billion in goods exports.

To increase success in doing business outside of Canada, SMEs (whether they are currently exporting or not) must be prepared and leverage all of the tools available to them. CUSMA is one of those tools.

Grow your business with CUSMA

CUSMA supports Canadian businesses and SMEs by providing continued access to the markets of the U.S. and Mexico, as well as updating the rules of trade within North America. It is now easier for Canadian SMEs in a wide range of sectors to do business in the North American market, including through streamlined customs and origin procedures, and greater transparency in government regulations.

CUSMA also includes an SME chapter which complements commitments undertaken throughout the Agreement. It is designed to foster cooperation amongst the Parties to increase trade and investment opportunities for SMEs. It will also ensure information is available to SMEs to help them take advantage of the opportunities created by the Agreement. The chapter establishes an SME committee to coordinate these efforts and to convene a three-way SME dialogue. This will engage private sector stakeholders to discuss issues of the agreement that are relevant to SMEs. The Agreement also establishes a Competitiveness Committee, which, among other functions, will make recommendations aimed at enhancing the participation of SMEs in the North American economy.

Why should SMEs use CUSMA?

Whether you sell goods or services or you’re seeking new business partners in your supply chain, CUSMA can help you grow your global sales.

  • Increases competitiveness: CUSMA creates advantageous conditions for SMEs and maintains Canada’s preferential access to the U.S. and Mexican markets for goods. The Agreement ensures that 99.99% of Canadian exports to the U.S. and Mexico are eligible for duty-free treatment.
  • Makes trade more transparent and stable: CUSMA offers a single set of high-standard rules for trade across North America, making trade more predictable, transparent, and accessible. The Agreement simplifies procedures for clearing goods through customs, by making specific commitments to enhance transparency and make information available online for SMEs. It also promotes fair business practices and creates a level playing field with enforceable rules on state-owned enterprises in CUSMA markets.
  • Reduces barriers to trade: CUSMA addresses key challenges and barriers to doing business in the global marketplace, such as technical barriers to trade, that disproportionately affect SMEs.
  • Improves access for services companies: CUSMA enhances market access for Canada’s services industries, including financial services, providing a comprehensive set of investment protections.
  • Increases your market presence: CUSMA lowers costs of participating in international trade, including the creation of new rules that address potential barriers to digital trade and protect the free flow of data across borders. It also maintains Canada’s preferential access to U.S. and Mexican markets for the temporary entry of business persons.
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